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I SEE U – Imagining A Space For Freedom Art Exhibition

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 Ayanda Dyaloyi and Athi-Patra Ruga Commemorate 25 Years of Democracy at ‘I See U’ Art Exhibition. 

Celebrating 25-years of South Africa’s democracy, the works – by artists such as Athi-Patra Ruga and Ricky Ayanda Dyaloyi – encompass painting, sculpture, photography, beadwork and drawing. Together they powerfully illustrate the importance of art to catalyze change, hold the powerful to account, and give a voice to the voiceless. 

Featuring more than 35 works, the I See U art exhibition is being showcased at Spier Wine Farm until 20 November 2019. The phrase “I see U” has become a short form often used on social media to give recognition and support — to connect and to acknowledge someone’s achievements despite the challenges they face.  

It has become popular especially among young people, who often use “U” instead of “You”.  By using these youthful colloquial points, the exhibition offers a reminder of the young age of our democracy. 

A stunning showcase 

I See U made its debut at the Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill, in Johannesburg, where it was shown from 26 June to 31 July. 

When selecting the works, I See U’s curator Olga Speakes — a lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town and an independent curator — was guided by the insight that, while much has been achieved over 25-years of democracy, much more needs to be done.  

The artists which she and co-curator Gaisang Sathekge selected each honour the struggles of the past and take stock of our tumultuous present while inviting the viewers to imagine a more equal, prosperous and just South African future. 

“By imagining the possibilities of freedom, artists open the door to real change,” said Speakes.  

“Artists hold a mirror to our society and our history and to speak back to us through their creations. They are the ones who can see our world in a way that opens different, deeper ways of knowing it. And so, by supporting artists we support our freedom.” 

This is the second time that an external curator has put together a show of Spier works — in 2018, Candice Allison, director of the Bag Factory, curated Material Gains, a show exhibited at the Stellenbosch University Art Museum. 

“Spier’s commitment to the arts extends to beyond nurturing artists — we are keen to develop curatorial talent too. That’s why, for public exhibitions, we invite young South African curators to access this significant collection — thus building on their own career development and portfolio as curators,” Mirna Wessels, CEO of the Spier Arts Trust explained. 

Spier and the arts 

Spier has been involved in the promotion of the arts in South Africa for years now and has various projects that support and stimulate the arts community in South Africa. 

These include Creative Block, the Spier Arts Academy and the Spier Artist Patronage Programme 

These projects are managed by the Spier Arts Trust, as part of its mandate to facilitate collaboration and growth opportunities for visual artists and artisans in South Africa.  

The trust also curates Spier’s art collection, one of South Africa’s largest. 

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